Bonum Certa Men Certa

Bonnie B. Dalzell Explains Her Experience With Richard Stallman

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Feb 24, 2024

New update, dated yesterday:

Bonnie B. Dalzell sent us a message to tell us more about herself, MIT and Richard Stallman in the mid 1970s (this is in addition to another comment she had posted elsewhere).

THE Web site that Richard Stallman (RMS) endorses by both verbal and written means wrote some time yesterday that "Bonnie B. Dalzell sent us a message to tell us more about herself, MIT and Richard Stallman in the mid 1970s (this is in addition to another comment she had posted elsewhere)."

For more exposure and effect we thought we'd reproduce it here too. This old comment of hers said: "I was a female, non-computer science person (geology/biology) who had a marvelous job at the MIT AI/Logo lab in 1975/76. One of the people I met and had long discussions with, often late at night, was RMS. I was never insulted by any male person at the AI lab at that time nor even propositioned. I felt that a number of the tech guys were a bit clueless about details of social interaction but so were most of the geologists I had known. My personal interpretation is that many brilliant science oriented persons are just not sensitive to the social forms that are employed in interactions to soothe feelings and avoid offense. I greatly admired Marvin MInsky and this whole thing with Epstein is a terrible episode. But attacking RMS and separating him from his life’s work because he expressed an opinion and tried to start a rational discussion on the matter is, in my opinion, a terrible mistake. To this day I use GNU/Linux and support its goals and the goals of the FSF." A screenshot was preserved too.

Her new remarks, which were reproduced this past week, are as follows:

Message from Bonnie B. Dalzell – How Richard Got Me Into GNU/Linux

In February 2024, Bonnie B. Dalzell sent us this message to tell us more about herself, MIT and Richard Stallman in the mid 1970s. (This is in addition to another comment she had posted elsewhere.)

Thanks for your efforts to support RMS. This attack on him really distressed me.

I was a recent graduate in Palaeontology from the University of California, Berkeley. It was right after the free speech era and a “power to the people” time when one definition of this concept was that “if you teach people about how to do something, you give them power.” RMS and I had a number of conversations about this, and his drive to do free software programming and teach even non computer types like me about computers was inspiring to me. It created in me an addiction to computers which lasts today. I run GNU/Linux on the desktop I built.

Major at UCB was in a branch of Geology which, as in computer science, was dominated by male students whose focus was on their discipline, not social skills. So I did not feel out of place at the MIT AI Lab.

I was hired in the Logo group at the MIT AI Lab as one of several non computer majors to be a novice to computers and see how I would interact with the developing concept of a personal computer. They found out about me because of a short job I had designing alien creatures for an exhibit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

Here is other stuff I have done in speculative fiction. I do art work as well as fossils, biomechanics and teach medical anatomy.

An associate reminds us that Microsoft "has played 'BSD' folks against the GPL for years. BSD and GPL, however, in contrast to Microsoft propaganda, have the same goal, just a different approach in trying to get there and that same goal is very important to emphasize."

We actually saw many words of support from BSD-centric sites, both when RMS came under fire and when he revealed that he fought cancer.

We hope that the dehumanisation tactics will end. The same people who did this to RMS got "appetite" from their perceived success (could barely conceal their contentment over the cancer diagnosis) and progressed to dehumanising Professor Eben Moglen, who had crafted the GPL together with RMS.

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